Recapping and Grading WWE Total Divas for Sept. 1 "Diva Las Vegas"
Note: Between the bachelorette party shenanigans and other related dialogue, this review is not as work-safe as usual, as the episode was probably the most "blue" WWE production in a long time.
With two episodes left in the initial summer order of eight episodes (the show returns November 17th to start a six-week run), Total Divas is ramping things up. Barring any shuffling around of episodes, they're building to Nattie and TJ's wedding in two weeks, where we will see Gizmo the cat walk Nattie down the aisle in a tuxedo that her mom made to match TJ's. I love the Hart family.
Anyway, this week on Total Divas:
- The whole episode is centered around the JoJo/Eva Marie housewarming party and then everyone going to Las Vegas for Nattie and TJ's bachelorette and bachelor parties, respectively.
- On the rebound after breaking up with Sebastian, 19-year-old JoJo is interested in 32-year-old Justin Gabriel.
- Nikki tries to get Brie drunk, as she's stopped drinking since she's been in a relationship with Daniel Bryan.
- Vincent(~!) shows up in Vegas and wreaks havoc.
- Jarret is constantly texting Nattie and making her get slightly cold feet as Nikki tries to give her advice.
While normally I try to divide the stories up since the timeline of this show can be all over the place, this week was very linear and the stories were all intertwined, so I'm just going to go over the episode chronologically.
The episode opened at the June 3rd Raw in Hartford as Eva Marie and JoJo admire Justin Gabriel doing handstand pushups against a wall. They try to find out from Chris Jericho (who seems endlessly amused by the questioning) if Gabriel is single, and he is, so JoJo sets her sights on him. For those keeping track, he's referred to as "Justin" and his real name, Paul, is never uttered. They immediately start flirting and Eva Marie is worried about the age difference on top of JoJo being on the rebound.
In Tampa, Nattie recaps the Jaret situation for the other girls at the WWE Training Center and Nikki tries a wacky new move on Trinity. Then, it's time for JoJo and Eva Marie's housewarming party. Present are the main cast, Jon Uso, TJ, Curt Hawkins and Primo Colon for a few seconds, and eventually...Justin Gabriel!
A couple threads that the episode revisits get started at the party.
The concept of "Brie mode" is invoked by Nikki to describe how Brie was apparently a wild, heavy drinker before she was with Bryan—now she barely drinks at all. We even get to see old photos of Brie totally drunk as if this was an episode of Arrested Development.
In talking about Jaret, Nattie mentions to Nikki that she and TJ have only ever been with each other, both in relationship and sexual terms. Nikki is amazed that there is a human being like this, and says this explains all of her anxieties.
Anyway, JoJo and Justin head to the terrace to make out, which everyone can see because the apartment is really tiny. After a commercial break, we see them on a lunch date. Justin starts to order adult beverages, but remembers she's under 21. Unlike other seemingly manufactured relationship drama, this is kind of awesome, as Justin is constantly mugging for the camera as if to say "LOL, I'm gonna hit that," while JoJo talks about her pet rabbit among other things he doesn't care about at all.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Tampa, Nikki and John Cena go to some kind of shoe and purse store to get a gift for Nattie. Nikki is all "DID YOU KNOW NIKKI AND TJ HAVE ONLY EVER BEEN WITH EACH OTHER?" and John is completely nonplussed, wondering why he should care. Nikki starts digging a hole by saying she's nothing like that, but he doesn't really care about that, either. The Total Divas' version of John Cena is awesome.
In Los Angeles, Vincent(~!) is sad he's not going to Las Vegas with everyone else, but Ariane explains it's only people from work. That's the whole scene, but it becomes important later.
In Vegas, everyone (the gang now includes Bryan and Jey Uso/Jon's brother Josh) is hanging out by the hotel pool. Nattie is flirting with Jaret via text message as she talks to Nikki, who explains "smiley face means 'let's get it on.'" A comment about Nattie wearing pink (like her ring gear) leads to Nikki saying "He wants to see your pink, and I don't mean your ring gear."
Yes, someone actually said that on WWE programming.
After TJ toasts Nattie in a nice moment, the guys disappear for a while as the girls go to see a Chippendales show, where she's is invited on stage during a cowboy-themed dance number. JoJo and Eva Marie head out so JoJo can complain about how much Vegas sucks if you're under 21, and they just happen to see Justin riding off in a cab with another woman. JoJo is sad and angry. Eva Marie is frustrated but vindicated. I didn't mean for that to rhyme. I'll break chronological order because their last scene is really short: The next night at dinner, Justin admits the age difference is too much of an issue, and that's that.
Brie enters "Brie Mode," but she doesn't really do anything much worse than accidentally hiking up her dress too much. Nikki, on the other hand, falls off a couch. While allegedly super drunk, Brie mercifully ends the Jaret storyline by explaining to Nattie that Jaret making her feel nice for a moment can't touch what she's had for over a decade with TJ.
At this point, the episode turns a corner and gets much, much more insane that it already was.
Brie can't find her key card, so she has to knock loudly so Bryan can let her in to their room. Then she tries to use fuzzy handcuffs on a very sleepy Bryan Danielson, who objects loudly. The next morning, Brie is hung over, but thinks she hid her drunkenness from Bryan, who explains she failed. He doesn't care, though, because he's normal and she was at her friend's bachelorette party.
In the "Adapted from Slashfic" moment of the episode, Brie is hanging out in Nikki's room when she finds Nikki's vibrator. The champ is here! Brie is horrified and throws it at Nikki. Again, this happened on a WWE show.
Elsewhere in the hotel, Ariane notes that she somehow got Vincent invited, and he shows up at the room by loudly banging on her door. He's bouncing off the walls, amazed by how nice the room is, and runs into the empty bath tub in the giant bathroom. Ariane is frustrated, apparently not realizing that in a weird way, they're perfect for each other.
At dinner, everyone is there, and Brie toasts Nattie and TJ and it's really nice, as she talks about how great it is that they're making it official even though she's sure it's been "official" to them for a long time. Nikki toasts to "orgasms and boners," which cracks up the entire table.
Nattie is served a cake of a man's torso and crotch, even though the guys are all there. She bites the thong off of it and hands the penis cake to Ariane. Vincent is angry and takes the cake away from her. "It's just Play-Doh," she points out. He doesn't care, but his mood (well, JoJo's, too) is improved when everyone gets giant plates of cotton candy. He dangles some in front of Ariane's face as everyone looks on with horrified looks on their faces.
Finally, we close the episode at "Ghost Bar." Vincent drinks so much alcohol he ascends to another plane of existence. He goes over to TJ and boisterously thanks him for the invite. The horror on TJ's face as realizes he made an even worse decision than than getting that haircut he had for much of his WWE run is palpable. Vincent dashes over to Jon next, hugging him and explaining that of all the guys there, Jon is the only one whose back he would take.
The one wrestler friend of Ariane who Vincent would back in a fight is the one who's a Samoan identical twin. I'm pretty sure that The Usos are the WWE wrestlers least likely to need backup in a fight. Jon takes this better than TJ, but looks amused by the situation.
Eventually he spills a drink on Ariane's dress and she screams at him for making a scene with work friends. She drags him out of the club and he tries to prove he's not drunk by walking in a straight line. He actually does a better job than you'd expect, but...umm...wow. Next week, Ariane has to tell him something important. They're breaking up? He's considered WWE talent and thus qualifies for free rehab? Who knows?
- Some of the most painful parts of this show are when the writers try to hammer home a certain phrase or word in a way that nobody would use in real life. This week, it was Nattie and occasionally the Bellas using "bachelorette" as a noun to refer to the whole celebratory weekend, which is not an actual usage of that word. Thankfully, it was limited to talking head segments.
- Early in the show when they were backstage, Sheamus and Matt Striker, with their faces barely blurred out, walked on camera as Sheamus waved for them to turn it off. I'm going to start a rumor on Twitter that Striker was fired for not signing a release to be on this show.
- For a tiny girl, Brie Bella has lost a lot of weight in the last couple months. She looked a lot different when they showed her in her gear at Raw.
What grade do you give "Diva Las Vegas"?
This episode was amazing. Some parts were obviously engineered (mainly the JoJo/Justin, "Brie Mode" and Jaret stuff), but the rest felt weirdly realistic for some reason. After seeing TJ and Jon try to act, there's no way their reactions to Vincent were not genuine. And Vincent...wow.
The whole thing was ridiculously entertaining. Even the weak spots gave us Justin Gabriel mugging for the camera, Nikki's "pink" line, the Brie photo montage, etc. Go out of your way to see this if you haven't yet.
Final Grade: A+
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